Historical Essay #1: Confederation and Constitution

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Historical Essay #1: Confederation and Constitution

As depression struck the new nation in the mid-1780s, new questions arose about the nature of American democracy. Many conservatives believed that the answer lay in a stronger national government. Most radicals believed it was up to the states to relieve the financial burden of the people. These sentiments fostered a movement for a new constitution. Political differences soon stimulated the creation of political parties.

Compare and contrast the Articles of Confederation with the new Constitution of 1787. What were the strengths and weaknesses of the Articles vis-à-vis the Constitution? Give specific instances that demonstrate the weakness of the Articles (such as the Western problem).

Then analyze the drafting of the Constitution, using specific details to show how the various states (slave vs. free, east vs. west) compromised in order to effectively draft a constitution. Pay particular attention to Roger Sherman’s plan, the Great Compromise, which broke a stalemate that could have been fatal to the development of the new Constitution.

Finally, compare and contrast the debate over ratification between the Federalists and the Anti-Federalists. Make sure you cite specific examples from the Federalist Papers to support the Federalist position and contrast it with leading proponents of the opposition (such as John Hancock). Analyze how the debate over a bill of rights illustrates the differences between the two parties. Evaluate the relative success of the Bill of Rights in achieving an effective balance between national and states’ interests.

This paper must be four to five double-spaced pages in length (not including the References page) and utilize no less than four academic quality sources. Margins should be no more than one inch (right and left) and the essay should be composed in an appropriate font and size. Sources must be documented and cited using APA format.


In order to
grade your assignments as accurately as possible, I have borrowed a
grading rubric which has been approved by the North Central
Accrediting Agency and is widely used by English teachers on the
secondary and college levels. For the purpose of simplicity, I have
divided the grading into three categories:

Content and Organization. This category includes the basic content
and organization of the paper. The paper should be focused and on
target, where all content adds to the whole. The paper should include
an inviting introduction, with a thesis statement, and a satisfactory
conclusion. The paper should meet the basic page requirements for
the given assignment.

Sentence Fluency and Voice. This category takes into account the
student’s active engagement with the topic. Papers should exhibit
strong sentences, with interesting vocabulary. Papers at the highest
level should be individual, personal, and compelling. The paper
itself would invite expressive oral reading.

3. Grammar
Conventions and Presentation. This category takes into account the
basics of English composition: spelling, punctuation, grammar, and
paragraphing. Short paragraphs tend to make a paper choppy and
difficult to read. Papers at the highest grade level are ready to
publish and demonstrate an above average proficiency in English. All
papers are expected to conform to APA standards as regards formatting
and references.

I will use
the above chart to refer to your assignment. E.g. “2.While your
paper is well-written, it is often mechanical. Sentences tend to be
choppy and awkward. The essay is pleasant but not overly compelling.”
Please email me with any concerns you have after the grading.

guidelines: The
paper should be typed and double-spaced, on standard 8 ½” x 11”,
20-pound white paper. All margins should be set at 1 inch. The paper
should use an acceptable font and size.


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